Within the realm of translations, it is far more common than one would imagine to encounter unusual linguistic interpretations that lead to some very funny translations. This often occurs when translating film titles and TV series into Spanish. Particularly when it comes to English source material, there is no shortage of amusing and absurd Spanish translations, even for highly successful films. Let's explore a few examples of the excessive creativity that has resulted in these ludicrous Spanish translations.
Absurd Spanish Translations: Films
Breaking Bad TV Series
Translating the title of this popular TV series, given its idiomatic nature, posed a challenge. “Break bad” is a slang expression used when something goes wrong or downhill.
In Spain, it was transformed into a lengthy and somewhat paternalistic expression: “Breaking Bad: Al mal tiempo, buena cara”, which loosely translates to “Put on a brave face during tough times”.This translation describes a character capable of facing life's adversities with courage, thus veering away from the essence of the protagonist. It can be considered one of the less accurate and amusing Spanish translations.
The film The Hangover, showcasing Bradley Cooper's adventures during a wild bachelor party that leads to chaos the next morning, was translated into Italian as Lion’s Night. In the Iberian Peninsula, it received an absurd Spanish translation that lacked creativity: Resacón en Las Vegas, meaning “Hangover in Las Vegas”.
Even in the realm of animated series, extravagant translations abound. Take The Flintstones, a family living in the Stone Age, known in Italy as The Ancestors. Fortunately, nobody dared to turn italianise the surname of Fred, Wilma, and family, or we would have had the amusing translation of “I Pietre-focaie” (The Firestones).
In Spain, they decided to change both the names and surname of the characters. Hence, the bewildering decision to transform the beloved Fred into Pedro Los Picapiedra (Pedro The Stone Breaker). This can be counted among the amusing Spanish translations, albeit lacking originality.
Snatch, directed by Guy Ritchie
Fans of Guy Ritchie's film Snatch know it has an intricate plot and witty dialogue, making the title difficult to translate. In Spain, they embraced the challenge and released it in cinemas as: Snatch: Cerdos y diamantes (Snatch: Pigs and diamonds), a choice deviating from the original style and message. It can be counted among the absurd Spanish translations of great films.
Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket
Discussing auteur films, we cannot overlook one of the amusing Spanish translations reserved for Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket. The original title alludes to a specific bullet with a soft core and a hard shell, metaphorically representing human nature within the context of war criticism. However, in the Spanish version, the translation becomes La jackqueta metallica (The Metallic Jacket).
Lo que esconde tu nombre by Clara Sanchez
Funny translation mishaps also occur in books, even when switching from Spanish to Italian. An example is the novel by bestselling author Clara Sanchez. The original title, Lo que esconde tu nombre (What Hides Your Name), translates into Italian as: The Scent of Lemon Leaves. It's one of the most entertaining translations, especially considering readers' reactions when expecting a pleasant sentimental novel but encountering a thriller addressing challenging topics instead.
Funny Quotes Translated into Spanish
In addition to film titles, numerous famous quotes, when translated into Spanish, can become a source of hilarity. For instance, Yoda's renowned phrase from Star Wars, "Do. Or do not. There is no try," becomes "Hazlo o no lo hagas, pero no lo intentes" in Spanish, which carries a more decisive tone, departing from the philosophical nature of the original.
These examples demonstrate how translations can sometimes yield unexpected results. Some of these instances emphasise the risk of losing sight of the true message conveyed in a story.
And if it can happen easily with a novel, a TV series, or an arthouse film, imagine would can happen when an advertisement is badly translated into Spanish. Whether attempting to adapt a title to a different culture or simply due to translation errors, these linguistic interpretations remind us that translation is an art, not an exact science. Although it may occasionally generate amusing and absurd translations, in the business world, conveying the wrong message can have serious implications.
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